Visiting The Great Wall in Beijing – Mutianyu or Badaling?
If you are visiting China, or in particular, Beijing, visiting the famous UNESCO World Heritage site – The Great Wall – should definitely be on your itinerary.
Amongst the other popular sightseeing destinations and things to do in Beijing, The Great Wall was what I was most excited to visit. Funnily enough when our car was driving towards the mountains, I got instant flashbacks of the Disney movie, Mulan lol.
Of course when we did get to the Wall, I was astounded at how beautiful it was in real life. It really was crazy to see it with my own eyes.
As most people know, The Great Wall is huge. It is about 20,000km long and has steep paths, easier paths, lots of stairs and climbing, watch towers, fortresses and horse tracks. With this being said, I can’t emphasise enough that you must wear comfortable shoes and clothes!!!
Badaling Section & Safety
As The Great Wall is so long, there are many different tours and sections you can see. Some range for days and others for only a few hours. One of the most popular sections is called Badaling. To be honest with you all, I do not recommend visiting the Badaling section because it is extremely crowded. You will most likely be frustrated and this can also potentially be dangerous as there were many steep and difficult parts to climb. With so many people around you all holding onto the railings, you can only imagine what could happen if there was an accident or if someone fell… it would be like a domino effect.
I think Badaling is definitely more difficult than Mutianyu. There are many railings and everyone will need to hold onto it while climbing and walking as the walks are extremely steep. It was difficult for me so if you are older or not that fit, you may find it to be even harder.
I don’t recommend it if you are travelling with elders or pregnant ones. It can be quite dangerous and the falls are steep.
The first part of The Great Wall that we visited actually was Badaling but we left disappointed due to the reasons I mentioned above. It is nonetheless stunning and beautiful, but both my mum and I don’t like crowds and it really felt very commercial.
The next day we visited the Mutianyu Section of The Great Wall. It is much less crowded and actually has more facilities like shops/restaurants and markets. There is also the option of coming down the wall on a toboggan. Both my mum and I did this and it was super fun. It’s not scary at all because you can control the speed 🙂
The Mutianyu section of The Great Wall was absolutely beautiful. It was so peaceful and quiet. You could even hear nearby roosters. I felt that this part of the wall was more preserved and it had more of an ‘original’ feel to it if that makes sense. There are also the little forts in this section and you can walk through and explore them.
Mutianyu Difficulty & Safety
The Mutianyu section of the Wall is still difficult (it is The Great Wall after all) but I felt it was safer and there were much less extreme steep walks. There are also many beautiful photo opportunities because the place isn’t crowded with people.
I think no matter which section you go to, you have to be careful while climbing. Make sure you look out for people you are travelling with especially if they are older or pregnant.
Which section to visit?
If you are wondering whether to visit the Badaling section or the Mutianyu section, I 100% recommend you visit Mutianyu. It is just as beautiful if not more, and it is way waaay less crowded. You will have a much more enjoyable time. There are also markets and restaurants which are fun to look at and who knows, you may be hungry or need a place to rest up after climbing the wall.
Unless the things I mentioned about Badaling don’t bother you then go ahead and visit it 🙂 there were lots of people so it must be good for some!
How to get there
There are many tours that your hotel can provide or you can visit some popular tour websites like Viator. At first we visited Badaling through Viator, but after being disappointed (not in the tour guide or the planning of the tour – those were lovely), my mum spoke to the hotel concierge for information on getting a driver to take us to Mutianyu the next day and back to our hotel. As my mum can speak Chinese, she was able to organise this for us at a good price.
The tours however, are a good option as you get to visit tea houses and the jade factories. Most tours also include lunch.